Free trade agreements (FTAs) are seen to boost a nation's competitiveness in the global trade arena. Asia, albeit a "late bloomer" in initiating FTAs compared to other regions, has been catching up as seen in the increasing number of agreements that are continuously being established. This has resulted in what experts call as the "Asian noodle bowl" which the Asian Development Bank Institute describes as trading arrangements characterized by complex and overlapping tariffs, standards, and rules of origin that can raise administrative and business costs. In the midst of the differing views on the impacts of the Asian noodle bowl on businesses in the region, this issue features an Asian Development Bank study that was presented during a roundtable discussion sponsored by the PIDS. Inside features of this issue also tackle equally timely and relevant studies on regional policy and development, microinsurance, and the global financial crisis of 2008.